Presidential Candidates and Sarbanes Oxley

During this presidential cycle, there have been plenty of calls for repeal of Dodd Frank (or significant portions thereof).  Some have also indicated a desire to repeal Sarbanes Oxley.  Newt Gingrich has called for repeal of SOX.  So has, apparently Rick Santorum and Ron Paul

Mitt Romney has supported the repeal of portions of Dodd Frank.  He apparently thinks that SOX should also be repealed.  According to one recent report:

After Mr. Romney vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, a voter in the crowd asked whether his list of repeals would include Sarbanes-Oxley, as well.  “Yes,” Mr. Romney said. “People who have spent their life in Washington in many cases … don’t understand that when they write a piece of legislation what kind of impact that’s going to have in the private sector, how many people’s lives will be affected by it.”

An off the cuff answer to a single question doesn't necessarily provide complete information about the candidate's views.  While some sections of the Act are controversial (section 404(b) for example), others, for the most part are not (the mandatory separation of auditing and non-auditing functions).  Moreover, Romney's web site is a bit more nuanced on the issue (calling for amendments "to relieve mid-size companies from onerous requirements"). 

Its possible, therefore, that the candidate has a more complex view on SOX than could have been articulated in a rapid question and answer format.  Nonetheless, with Congress increasingly involved in this area, one can hope that this will encourage public debate over the corporate governance provisions in SOX and Dodd Frank and their role in promoting investor protection.   

J Robert Brown Jr.